2010 will not be an easy year and recovery will be eventful after this year which is expected to close with a drop of tourism activity of around 5% globally.
In the past 10 years tourism went through multiple crises, but it not only dealt with them effectively, but came out stronger through them. The long-term prospects of global tourism remain positive, whereas as regards the immediate future the effort must continue, aiming mainly to preserve jobs, with the obvious condition of ensuring the operation of businesses.
Tourism can be the catalyst in dealing with global economic and environmental challenges, but its potential as the steam engine of the economy remain to a great extent unexploited by many governments, including the Greek one.
What the tourism sector needs in order to unfold its dynamism is a stable institutional and taxation framework, an effective and reliable macroeconomic policy, healthy competition, modern infrastructure, trained staff, modern supplementary services, and an efficient state. At the same time however, it is imperative to take coordinated measures and initiatives forthwith, in order to make 2010 a good year for tourism. Demand must be boosted, since it is the key parameter for dealing with the crisis in the short-term, especially during this period when the strong euro and the higher domestic inflation compared to the Europe of 27, are undermining our competitiveness.
The total balance of the tourism sector’s financing in Greece by Greek banks is close to €7.3 billion in mid-2009, which is 3% approximately of the total bank financing and 6% of business financing. The percentage seems disproportionately small compared to the importance of the sector for the Greek economy and is certainly lower than the financing for shipping (€ 10.2 billion) and construction (€ 11.3 billion).
Bank financing however must be based on criteria of solvency, creditworthiness, sustainability of investments and borrowers. It must take place with the banks and borrowers assuming their corresponding risks and liability in an environment of healthy competition, transparency and contemporary market operation rules.
The generalised use of non-banking criteria in financing and the maintenance of non-sustainable businesses does not contribute to the country’s growth, nor does it facilitate competition and diligent taxpayers end up paying the bill.
The undisputed contribution of the tourism industry to the country’s economic development renders necessary its support on a mid- to long-term basis. The ongoing economic crisis makes such support even more necessary, and forces the banking system to approach the problems of tourism businesses with increased realism.